Long before I took Biology and Chemistry of Food class in college I knew what we eat matters. After all, I had years of practical experience. I could eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and feel alert through the morning. Or I could eat a donut and fight sleep halfway into the first class. But what I wondered about before taking the class was: Could food improve my memory and capacity to learn?
Science of Eating
According to modern research, the answer was a resounding YES! What we eat influences neuronal function and synaptic plasticity, which in turn has a profound effect on brain health and mental function.
Too much sugar in a diet “undermines spatial learning and memory skills,” while greater consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with higher IQ and better memory skills. Diets with high levels of trans- and saturated fats interfere with the circulation system of the brain, impeding the flow of oxygen to the brain and actually impairing learning and memory. While people who eat baked fish on a regular basis have 14% greater gray matter volume in their brain area responsible for cognition.
When I had children I went into an overdrive. I was determined not to feed them sugary and processed foods filled with preservatives, additives, artificial flavorings, saturated and trans-fats. I wanted them to eat healthy proteins (like fish, lean meat, nuts, and dairy), whole grains (complex carbohydrates), healthy fats (olive oil, salmon, avocados, nuts, and seeds), and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Best Snack Ever
I call it a Brain-Boosting Smoothie because of the nutritional properties of its components. Brain neurons are vulnerable and can be damaged both by toxins from the environment and toxic byproducts formed in our own bodies. The first line of defense is consumption of antioxidants from food. Blackberries have the highest antioxidant content of all fruit (per serving). Rats that are fed blackberries as part of their diet perform better on memory tests!
Pears are members of the rose family of plants. Like blackberries, pears can protect the brain from oxidative stress. The high fiber content slows the release of sugar into the blood, keeping your brain alert thereby maintaining a capacity for thought and a good memory.
Banana, which is biologically speaking is classified a perennial herb (not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue), is another brain food. It does all sorts of wonderful things for the body, among them providing a healthy dose of Vitamin B6. In a memory study, men with higher levels of B6 outperformed the men with lower levels. Bananas are also rich in magnesium, which is fundamental for the processes of learning and memory. In rats increasing the level of magnesium improved both long and short-term memory.
In sum, this smoothie will make your kids smarter, taller, and richer. When this smoothie will help them make their first million don’t forget to remind them to send me a postcard (cash would work too). Wait! Why would you have to remind them? Their memory would be so good they will need no reminders. What are we waiting for? Get your bananas and let’s begin…
Brain-Boosting Smoothie for Kids and their Parents